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Kawauchi Plans to Give Up On Rio Olympics If He Fails At Asian Games

translated and edited by Brett Larner

The Japanese National Team for this year's Moscow World Championships returned to Tokyo's Narita Airport on August 20.  Having finished 6th in the world as part of the men's 4x100 m relay team, Yoshihide Kiryu (Rakunan H.S.) said that he will not race again until the Oct. 4-8 National Sports Festival at Tokyo's Ajinomoto Stadium, wishing to focus himself on building his basic strength.

After having finished 18th in the men's marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't.) signaled a potential retreat from pursuing future places on the National Team for summer championships depending on the outcome of the Dec. 1 Fukuoka International Marathon. A hardened expression never leaving his face, Kawauchi confirmed that he has established winning the marathon in the Sept.-Oct. 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, as the door that will open or close his "path to the world."  If he fails, Kawauchi confirmed that he intends to withdraw himself for consideration for the 2015 Beijing World Championships and 2016 Rio Olympics teams.  With regard to the first selection race for the Incheon team, December's Fukuoka International Marathon, Kawauchi said, "All I can do is run the kind of race that would put me into consideration for the team.  If I don't make it then.....Yes, that's it."

Moscow was an active, changing race, and it presented Kawauchi with a tough challenge. In terms of dealing with the heat, he said, "The race was about 26 degrees.  I knew I can cope with temperatures up to that.  But I should have kept my cool."  Despite a slow opening 5 km in 15:43, after 20 km he quickly stalled and fell as low as 25th before moving back up to 18th in 2:15:35.  "I went with all the pace changes after 5 km and moved up to 4th or 5th.  That was pointless," he said.  Post-race his hands shook and he suffered muscles spasms in both legs before being taken to the medical area for treatment.

In Moscow Kawauchi spent time listening to 5th-place Kentaro Nakamoto (30, Team Yasukawa Denki) and other corporate league runners.  "All of those guys regularly run 40 km training runs.  One of them even goes up to 60 km in a single run.  What I'm doing is insufficient.  I have to look at raising my volume."

Kawauchi will return to work at Kasukabe High School on August 21, but his plans for upcoming races have not changed.  At the beginning of September he will run a domestic race before heading to Newcastle to make his U.K. debut at the Sept. 15 Great North Run half marathon.  He will also run the Oct. 13 Melbourne Marathon and the Nov. 3 ING New York City Marathon before running Fukuoka.

At the 2011 edition of Fukuoka Kawauchi accomplished the feat of coming back late in the race to take 3rd as the top Japanese finisher after losing touch with the lead pack mid-race. 102 days remain until the race that determines which direction his career as an athlete will take in the future.  Whatever the "star amateur runner" says, not a single one of his races is pointless.


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